The Old Railway Semaphore Signals in Alton Bay, NH — In Desperate Need Of Attention

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

by Anura Guruge

I was well aware of the old railway semaphores above the Old Railway Station (now the Community Center) in Alton Bay. I do glance up at them every once in awhile as we go by, but I had not looked at them closely until this Sunday.

One room of the Community Center is used by the Lakes Region Tourist folks as an Information Booth. This Sunday I did an afternoon shift at that booth in my capacity as a Granite State Ambassador. One of the tourist board employees drew my attention to the signals. He had been trying to get Alton Town to paint them. He had called one of the selectman (who happens to be my neighbor) a few months ago — but to no avail. I know the person who heads up Alton Parks and Recreation, so I promised to contact her. I did, as soon as I got home – via e-mail. I got an e-mail back. They are aware that the semaphore needs attention and are hoping to get to it this fall.

I am not sure why we have to wait until fall. The whole structure is crying out for some attention — at least a coat of paint. Look at the pictures above — that I took yesterday (when I went to pick up the kids from a day camp at the Community Center).

The British red and yellow signals that I grew up with.

Though I have been a life long train buff (with a badly neglected Z-gauge train set, bits and pieces of other train sets and a lot of books on trains) I have not paid any attention to the history of the railroad that served Alton — though I do also visit Railway Park. So I have no idea of the provenance of these semaphores. It is interesting that you do not see them in old photos of the building! Of course there has to be folks in Alton who know the whole history. I just wish they would rally around and get this restored. Also not sure that black is the right color for the semaphores — though I am the first to admit that my experience of semaphore signalling is 100% based on the British scheme, which is what I grew up with in Ceylon and Britain. Yes, I had little British yellow and red semaphore signals for my HO railway set in Ceylon.

I have offered to help restore these signals. Not that I have the time, but I feel that it is something I should do given that it is train related and in Alton. But, if you can help PLEASE contact Alton Parks and Rec.


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About Anura Guruge

See 'The Blogger' on my blog.

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